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Category Archives: RPG

Just prior to Xanathar’s Guide to Everything being released, we were running some characters through the D&D Next adventures “Ghosts of Dragonspear Castle”, “The Scourge of the Sword Coast”, and “Dead in Thay”.

Ghosts is a great product to have in hard copy because it includes the adventure as well the entire rule system as it was during play tests; it also contains beasts and a huge amount of resource material. Probably the best thing I like about it, though, is the art work that spans the entire D&D oeuvre!

Of course, Dead in Thay has been redone for 5E in “Tales from the Yawning Portal”, so it can be ran using either D&D Next or 5E, even though there is very little difference.

We had gotten through a large part of Ghosts and were at 3rd level at the time that Xanathar’s came out, but I gave the players the option to convert their characters to one of the new classes since I used their characters to go through the creation process of the new classes in Xanathar’s just for my own edification. For those interested, here are the characters I created: Jelenneth Floshin (3rd Level Gloom Stalker who is a kinswoman of the famous Elven Floshin family who play a huge part in the region of Daggerford’s history); Holg (Half-orc companion of Jelenneth who is a 3rd Level Barbarian of the Ancestral Guardian Primal Path); Emporo Zuberi (3rd Level Bard of the College of Swords who is from Chult); Juma Zuberi (Younger brother of Emporo and 3rd Level Swashbuckler).

Jelenneth Floshin

Holg

Emporo Zuberi

Juma Zuberi

It’s been a couple of months since I’ve posted any RPG-related material here, but that’s not because of inactivity. It’s actually because of too much activity.

First and foremost was the publication of one of my write-ups of a monster in the relatively new mag, Savage Worlds Explorer. All of the folks at PEG that I’ve met, chatted with online, or exchanged e-mails with, have been just great people! But I have to send the big thanks out to Matthew Cutter who has been a fantastic editor to work with!

I’ve also reorganized my RPG book shelf and am chomping at the bit to dig into that beautiful Ripper Resurrected Box Set and start posting some homemade content. So, stay tuned!

Currently I’m running Adventures in Middle Earth which is an interesting adaptation of D&D 5e OGL. It really downplays the use of magic by characters and incorporates a system akin to Fear or Insanity that is called Shadow. As players continuously encounter the forces of evil, they can become affected and descend into all manner of role-playable badness. I’ve found myself having to fight the urge to Savage this game, but I really want to run it RAW before tweaking things.

I’ve also been creating new characters from Xanathar’s Guide to Everything since it was released.

We took our new characters through older D&D adventures from the D&D Next line. Ghosts of Dragonspear Castle, Scourge of the Sword Coast, and Dead in Thay.

 

Another RPG I’m excited about getting in the next few days is Genesys by Fantasy Flight Games. It’ll be interesting to see the design of their agnostic RPG.

Finally, I decided to entice (force) the family to play Savage Worlds at our house since we were hosting Thanksgiving. It really did’t take much arm twisting because I let the group decide on the genre. We decided to run a Zombie Apocalypse one shot which I had run before and it was a huge success! Introducing my wife’s grandfather of 80-something years to Savage Worlds was quite entertaining. Everyone had a great time!

Been diving deep into some Deadlands Hell on Earth Reloaded! This setting rocks!

There are so many post apocalyptic tropes to explore in this setting that you could do a twist on almost any post apocalyptic TV show or movie. The plot point campaign “The Worm’s Turn” is also a great option to jump right into the action.

Here are 5 archetypes ready to play. They are all Heroic level.

Doomsayer

Junker

Syker

Templar

Witch

I want to begin by reporting a crime. Pinnacle’s Lankhmar Test Drive is about the best introduction to Savage Worlds you could ever want – and it’s FREE! Seriously, PEG outdid themselves on this test drive product and I would highly recommend this as the default introduction to new Savages!

Lankhmar Test Drive

Back to the Lankhmar campaign. We’ll likely try and wrap up our delve into the Lankhmar game we’ve been running this weekend depending on how long it takes to get through the remaining Eyes of Goro’mosh PPC. My plan is to begin the session by running the two middle adventures, then run the players through the classic D&D module White Plume Mountain converted to Savage Worlds, and finish the final adventure of the Goro’mosh PPC. This may take a couple of sessions, but that’s okay. I really like running classic modules that require the adventurers to retrieve some powerful magic item and WPM has three of them! Plus, it’s a rather short module.

Here are the monster conversions for WPM:

White Plume Mountain Encounters

Our next setting delve is going to be Deadlands Hell on Earth Reloaded and I think I might like the setting even more than Lankhmar, which is saying a helluva lot, so stay tuned!

Sunday’s game returned the players to the world of Nehwon where we began by finishing “The Blasphemy of Pavel”.

Here is the final battle of that  adventure. Having succeeded, the heroes returned to Lankhmar where I threw them some adventure time in the city. The first thing I hit them with was the first part of the Plot Point Campaign of “The Eyes of Goro’mosh”. I also ran the Savage Tale entitled “Moonlight Madness” from “Savage Tales of the Thieves Guild”. It was fun, but the werewolf Feherbay escaped and so now I have a villain who will likely return later on.

Then it was time for another job outside of the city. This time, the group included Fafhrd and Gray Mouser. The gang was hired to retrieve another magic item. This time, a staff from The Vault of the Dracolich.

This was actually a really fun dungeon that didn’t feel like a straight up dungeon crawl. Instead of laboriously trudging room to room, I chose to only run the major battles and allow the players to role play quite a bit more. It turned out to be a heck of a lot more fun and fast-paced.

The heroes did pick up two more adventuring companions: a Drow assassin and a Treant.

In the module, the Drow is male, but I changed him to a female. Otherwise, it was a fairly straight conversion.

VotD Encounters

Strykelda

Ironbark

The final battle with Dretchroyaster the Dracolich was run as a Dramatic Task and it fit perfectly with the module!

Here’s the final scene.

When I received my Lankhmar box set I couldn’t wait to jump into some adventures in Nehwon. Pinnacle did a great job with this line of products and I was most pleasantly surprised by how quickly I received it and the great packaging of the dice, maps, Bennies, and books! I wish they would do this with all of their product lines.

As I read through the material, I couldn’t wait to jump into an adventure. I also noticed immediately that the magic and how it’s treated in Lankhmar is very similar to the Solomon Kane setting – another superb product from Pinnacle. I threw out the idea of running an adventure using the random adventure generator in “Savage Foes of Nehwon” just to see what adventure it generated. The results were a mysterious patron hires the adventurers to go and retrieve a magic item.

As our group talked about running an adventure in Lankhmar for our session on Sunday, we also discussed the books by Leiber and the Conan and Solomon Kane books by Howard. Then someone mentioned that having blackpowder weapons would be pretty cool. So, we threw together a rather strange adventure party.

The party consists of two characters that saw a lot of playing time in our Call of Kungfulhu campaign: Wrantin Kullslug (an assassin from the Maestro Kwellin) and Shi-La (a fire wu from Shan). Their stats are here:

Character stats

For more information on the exploits of Wrantin over the years, see the document entitled “The Outlandish Adventures of Wrantin and Raven” here:

Source Material

The two conquistadors were generated using the Solomon Kane rule book.

One is a lesser noble who was the leader of the explorers and the other one is his closest friend. The two men were displaced from their universe but met up with Wrantin and Shi-La in Lankhmar. This is their first adventure together, but we might shuffle the characters around a bit as we go. It’s always fun to use a stable of characters who go on adventures with each other at various times and can be rotated in and out for flavor. Fafrhd and Gray Mouser stats are included and we are definitely going to be adventuring with those guys!

Juan Herrera

Antonio de Cruz

I chose to recycle an older adventure I randomly generated for both Savage Worlds and D&D 5e. In the adventure, a Death Knight has possession of the sword “Souldrinker” (page 99 of the Fantasy Companion). This sword is the item the group must retrieve.

The adventure is found here:

Blasphemy of Pavel

We made it from Lankhmar to the temple and got about halfway through the dungeon on Sunday. The group wasted no time taking on Pavel, a couple of soldiers, some demons Pavel summoned, as well as his Nightmare. Shi-La summoned a Fire Elemental, too. That’s a lot of people/monsters in one battle, but Savage Worlds is the most fun when there’s that much chaos! (If you look closely at the picture above you’ll see the scene from Rooms 2 & 3 of the dungeon. Below are my sheets for all of the baddies in play.) The group prevailed and secured Souldrinker, but, of course, they wanted to loot the entire dungeon.

Below are rooms 14 & 15 of the dungeon with the party outside the door as they plot their entrance.

I think that Lankhmar is going to be a great time. The Plot Point Campaign entitled “Eyes of Goro’mosh” provides some great material and also allows for numerous adventures to be thrown in from the other source books. If you wanted to play a long campaign, there’s more than enough material to last you and your group months of entertainment!

Oh, and the maps are great, too! I love big maps!

I’ve been thinking about creating a method to play Savage Worlds solitaire style and I decided to begin by adapting Savage Worlds to the wonderful choose-your-own-adventure books of the Fighting Fantasy series. I acquired the Wizards Books series 2 version in a set of 10 books.

Fighting Fantasy Box Set

I randomly selected the book “City of Thieves” to use as my play test because I wanted to use the “Fantasy Companion” and “Lankhmar: City of Thieves” for stats. Most monsters or Extras can be found in these two books.

The only real addition I worked out was the use of “Luck” and “Tests of Luck”. All of the combat using Skill and Stamina I pretty much discarded and used Savage Worlds rules to resolve battles.

Here’s how I used Luck. First I replaced the starting 3 Bennies your character typically gets with starting Luck (1d6+6). This becomes your starting Bennies and any time the text instructs you to lose or gain Luck points, just lose or gain from your Benny pile. Bennies, of course, can still be spent to re-roll Trait tests, remove Shaken status, etc.

When the text instructs you to make a Test of Luck, simply make a Spirit roll. I thought of creating a derived statistic for a Trait called Luck, but I didn’t want to get too complicated, so I just used Spirit.

And that’s pretty much all you need to do to grab a pregen fantasy character and start playing. The book City of Thieves takes part in Port Blacksand and I was able to find a map online that helps you to navigate the city as you go through the quest.

Of the 10 books in this series, the book “House of Hell” is the only one that uses “Fear” rules for Fighting Fantasy. It’s set as a modern horror story and isn’t high fantasy or swords and sorcery. The easiest method for incorporating Fear is to simply roll 1d6+6 and that becomes your cap. You start at 0 at the beginning of the adventure and any time the text instructs you to, you make Fear checks or acquire Fear points. If your Fear ever becomes equal with your cap, you have lost your marbles and the adventure ends. It’s fairly simple to incorporate into your character stats for Savage Worlds.

There are other times when you have to make up methods on the fly for resolving things, but it was fairly intuitive. For example, in one part I was apprehended by two guards. The text had instructions for resolving the struggle and I simply made it an Opposed roll of my Strength vs. the two Guard’s Strengths. All in all, converting it to Savage Worlds was seamless and quick!

 

I decided to incorporate more Mass Battles and Sieges into a fantasy-themed game I’m running that utilizes the Black Powder Brigade characters I created. This turned into a research project on the various Mass Combat/Siege rules in several of the Savage Worlds products. Namely: Savage Worlds Deluxe Explorers Edition, Savage Worlds Fantasy Companion, Weird Wars Rome, Weird Wars II, Iron Dynasty, and Realms of Cthulhu.

Basically, both Mass Battles and Sieges utilize a quicker system that revolves around opposed Knowledge (Battle) rolls made by the opposing commanders. The breakdown of the steps into the most basic outline is:

  1. Characters perform Trait tests to determine the deductions/bonuses they contribute to the Knowledge (Battle) roll.
  2. The two opposing commanders make their Knowledge (Battle) rolls.
  3. The losing side deducts the symbolic representation (tokens) of their losses.
  4. The losing commander makes a Morale (Spirit) roll.
  5. Repeat until one side wins.

 

One thing I noticed when reviewing the Leadership Edges that affect Mass Combat and Sieges is that these Edges rarely are taken by players. In order to incorporate these Edges into a Mass Battle/Siege, I created a list of 6 effects (Edges). Instead of having these as Edges, however, I made them into a table that requires a 1d6 to use one of them. The trapping for this can be any manner of item, artifact, person, etc. that embodies the boon to the army. For example, in my game I’m running a siege where Orcs and Goblins are attacking a Dwarven fortress. The Dwarves have an item called “The Horn of Galfallen” that allows the heroes to roll once on the Boon table at the beginning of the siege.

I’ve also added tables for all the common modifiers that a GM would need to run Mass Battles and Sieges.

Mass Battle & Siege Cheat Sheet

Finally, I would recommend printing or having handy pages 16 and 18 of the Savage Worlds Fantasy Companion. Page 16 lists different ways characters can affect either the Knowledge (Battle) roll, the Morale roll, or Supplies. Page 18 lists Siege Engines and Fortifications.

Using the Dwarven defense of their stronghold as an example, here are the factors that modify the Knowledge (Battle) roll for each side.

700 Dwarves have a huge Fortification (+3) with light artillery bonus (+1). The characters must each make their Trait rolls with the results further modifying the +4 bonus. The Dwarves will use 7 tokens with another 6 tokens representing their Supply total of 6.

1,000 Orcs and Goblins are attacking the fortress using light artillery (+1), Giants (+1), catapults (+3), and siege towers (+2). The Orc/Goblin army also receives a +3 because they have 3 more tokens (10) than the Dwarves. This gives the enemy a +10 to their Knowledge (Battle) roll.

And this becomes a great opening scene for the next Savage Worlds session!

I’ve been running nothing but One-Shots lately. The thing about Savage Worlds is that there are so many great settings to play. I put in the work for developing campaigns, but everyone wants to play everything under the sun. Don’t get me wrong, though. I still love running all these cool settings even if it is just a One-Shot. But I decided to adjust my GM planning a bit and quit focusing on so much research and preparation. I’m also going to try and throw in some crazy twists to the One-Shots I run just to make them more memorable.

The next One-Shot is going to be a Weird Wars Rome game.

I found myself drifting into the black hole of information and prep work with WWR and had to tell myself to just stop. It’s only going to be a One-Shot and I needed a radical mash-up. Then it hit me.

Dwarves with Guns!

When I used to play Mage Knight I acquired numerous of these Black Powder Rebel Dwarves with firearms.

How about the Contubernium the characters are a part of go into northern Germania and run into a patrol of Dwarves with muskets? Now that’s a mash-up that would be cool to run!

Presented here are the details and character sheets for the Black Powder Brigade (inspired by and using the minis from the Black Powder Rebels). The characters are the equivalent of the Contubernium sized unit. The particular ones I made the characters for are called “The Axeheads”. Most of the other Dwarves that make up a Squad will use a mix of battle axes and war hammers, but The Axeheads use axes exclusively and bear as their symbol two crossed battle axes.

The Black Powder Brigade

The Black Powder Brigade comprises Dwarves who have dedicated themselves to both the study of battle tactics and the effective uses of black powder in warfare.

The structure of a Black Powder Brigade Squad

Each Squad is led by a War Mage. The typical make-up of the Combat Squad is: War Mage, Black Powder Mage, Sapper, Sniper, 2-4 Draggoons.

The War Mage has the Arcane Background of Alchemy (see Fantasy Companion). War Mages learn to harness Alchemical powers in order to boost the soldiers effectiveness in combat. This could include both offensive/defensive magic as well as healing magic. They are not trained in the finer combat maneuvers that the Dragoons study and employ, but they are trained in leadership and command of the kind that boosts morale and esprit de corp.

The Black Powder Mage is typically the second in command. They utilize the Arcane Background of Weird Science. While the War Mage can concoct the Black Powder, the Black Powder Mage is an expert on how to effectively employ it. They design, repair, and teach the finer arts of the musket and grenade to the Dragoons, Sniper, and Sapper.

The Sniper is usually a Dragoon who has displayed exceptional skill in marksmanship. They serve the squad as a scout as well as providing valuable cover fire for the Dragoons.

The Sapper is utilized to lob grenades in front of the advancing Dragoons as they form The Dwarven Shield Wall. Their skills come in handy in numerous other ways as well, though. Sappers are typically well-versed in fighting with axes and hammers and can join melee, too.

The Dragoons are the backbone of the squad. They have developed tactics that maximize their use of muskets, but they also love to leap into open melee. Dragoons in a Squad are the experts on battle tactics and not the War Mage.

New Edge: Dwarven Shield Wall

Two Dragoons use one massive shield between them to effectively fight with muskets. The War Shield is a Large Shield (+2 Parry; +2 Armor to ranged shots that hit). In addition to the shields inherent bonuses, both Dwarves that possess this Edge receive Heavy Cover while performing the Dwarven Shield Wall maneuver.

The Dwarven Shield Wall maneuver consists of two Dwarves behind a single shield rotating back and forth to provide protection while the other reloads. The first Dwarf fires on the first round. On the second round he advances the shield forward. At the end of the advance, the second Dwarf steps forward to fire and advance while his partner reloads.

There could be any number of adjacent Dragoons performing this tactic as a battle line. In a Squad, the Dragoons’ tactics are augmented by the other members and their tactics.

Here are 6 members of The Axeheads. Nevor Runecarver and Bruge Slagdrinker are Dragoons. If you want to create more Dragoons, just use Nevor and Bruge as templates and change their names.

Fargus Mithrilsmith

Brygo Ironforge

Angus Graniteskull

Hovar Stonespeaker

Nevor Runecarver

Bruge Slagdrinker

Members of the Black Powder Brigade love good tobacco. This is also practical. Pipes and cigars burn slowly so that they become a valuable way to light fuses while on the march or fighting.

P.S. I made a shield for my Dragoon.


The Last Parsec is an amazing setting with some really great adventures. It has an old-school feel that reminds me of the classic TSR game Star Frontiers.

Actually, The Last Parsec was directly influenced by Star Frontiers and Shane Hensley talks about that influence here.

Last year I ran Leviathan and it was a fun campaign. Recently, our group began running Eris Beta-V and I have to say that it is an amazing, high-action set of adventures.

We’re using the pregenerated characters from Pinnacle’s web site. I went through most of the products available for The Last Parsec and wanted to provide a possible order to do all of the adventures in.

The Last Parsec Adventure Order

  1. Omariss Death Worm
  2. Unexpected Colony
  3. Beginning of Eris Beta-V
  4. One of the first missions of the EB-V campaign can be Ghosts in the Machine
  5. Continue EB-V
  6. Untimely Discovery
  7. Leviathan
  8. During Leviathan run Catch of the Day
  9. The Enigma Equation
  10. Scientorium
  11. Pranac Pursuit

 

One of the things I like best about The Last Parsec is how seamlessly it runs with Savage Worlds and the Science Fiction Companion. I’ve noticed that Rifts is very similar in adhering closely to the Science Fiction Companion and I’m thinking about merging the two somehow. It would make for a great sic-fi setting that feels a lot like Guardians of the Galaxy.